Could You Be the Design Superstar “Project Runway” is Looking For?

Here are some insider tips from two-time TV star Kini Zamora, just in time for the April 3 application deadline.
Kini Zamora design
Photo: Courtesy of Kini Zamora


You’ve got until April 3 to tell the folks at Project Runway about your mad skills, or tell your talented friend or cousin about the casting call for Season 16 of the hit show featuring up-and-coming designers.


Hey, we need another Hawai‘i talent to cheer on after tuning in for our very own Kini Zamora (twice!) and Ari Southiphong, too.


The show’s casting staff promises designers “exposure to an enormous television audience, the opportunity to showcase their work at New York Fashion Week, and the chance to win $100,000 or more to launch or expand their fashion line.”


Applicants can learn more and apply online here. The deadline is April 3. Click here to view the flyer.


Kini Zamora
Kini Zamora.
Photo: Courtesy of Lifetime

We caught up with Zamora for the scoop on what Project Runway is really like. He’s currently in the middle of whipping up an exclusive collection for the Merrie Monarch Festival, creating one-of-a-kind prom dresses and planning his upcoming fall lineup.


Shoutout to Zamora for always taking time to mentor others and to tell our readers what it takes to make it to the runway.


HONOLULU Magazine: What’s your advice for budding designers who are thinking about applying for Project Runway?

Kini Zamora: Just apply. If you have the passion, go for it. I always thought, I have nothing to lose, so why not?


HM: Was the waiting process long?

KZ: Not too bad. They called me back and told me I made it to the finale, and I thought I made it! But that just meant I was in the final selection, and I had to take a physical and psychiatric test. That’s when I thought, the s— just got real! Luckily, I passed, and, after traveling to New York, where the Project Runway team made the final selection on air, I was told I made it. I had one week to go home, pack my things and return to New York.


HM: What are some tips you wish someone gave you before you went on the show?

KZ: Make sure you know who you are as a designer. Know your strengths and weaknesses and who you want to present to the judges. There’s definitely a lot of growth throughout the season, but knowing who you are from the beginning will guide you and keep you grounded and true to who you are as a designer. Because the truth is, the show is only three months, at the end of it all, you still have to return home and be the designer you are. 


HM: What was your strength as a designer?

KZ: I love structure, and that is what I’m good at. The casting team also looks for designers who fill a personality role. I would say I was the nice, shy guy from Hawai‘i.


HM: What was one of the hardest challenges of being on a reality show?

KZ: Learning how to recite product placement, and make it sound natural. I would attempt to say things like, ‘This Aldo accessory wall is amazing!’ Or, ‘This Samsung refrigerator is great!. I wasn’t used to reading lines, and it would take me three takes.


HM: How did you feel after the show ended?

KZ: Proud. I hope that me being on the show encourages young designers from Hawai‘i who have a dream of being a part of the global fashion community that it is possible. And having a door open is not far-fetched.


HM: Last words of advice?

KZ: Always make sure you put everything into what you create. It’s true, one day you’re in and one day you’re out. You’re only as good as your last design.